Remember when you had a newborn baby and you thought life was hard? Those sleepless nights, the spit ups, the engorged breasts. Then baby number 2—or more—comes along and one measly newborn child seems like a cake walk. You used to be able to watch Ellen on the daily and go to playgroups just to talk to other moms while your baby slept in their car seat. You used to sometimes even get a nap in! Life just got a little more chaotic, but don't worry, help is on the way! Help from your older child that is. Read on to learn 10 ways your older child can help with your new baby.
Kids like to feel helpful, and often times just pretending you need them to rush and get you a diaper makes them feel important. It's actually excellent practice because one day your newborn will projectile poop across the room and your dog will run through it and you will have no wipes or a fresh diaper. Your big kid will run and bring you supplies in record time. On that day, your child will be a true hero.
Kids also like to make decisions. They might not have chosen to become a big brother or sister but they sure can help choose their outfits. Yes, this does mean your baby might end up wearing a sleeper with a swim diaper over top and a bow tie for good measure. But who are you trying to impress, anyway? You can gently lead them in the right direction. Maybe a bikini isn't the best outfit choice in a blizzard or perhaps that Santa sleeper should be reserved for special, perhaps, "Christmasy" occasions.
Keep a glass on the counter and a step stool next to your sink if your older child can't reach the tap. If you are a nursing mom, you know that every time you sit down and start feeding your new baby you immediately feel like you are dying of thirst, something akin to having walked 5000 hours through a dessert. Don't worry about getting up and awkwardly trying to keep your baby latched while pouring yourself a glass of water. Beckon your older child, tell them that you'd like something to drink. Kids like to help. They also like turning taps on. You might want to check your floors later though, kids also tend to spill the majority of EVERYTHING on the floor… it's science.
Your child doesn't have to know how to actually read to look through a board book with your baby. Giving your older child any extra time like this to bond with the new baby is beneficial. Plus, it makes for the perfect photo opportunity. Totally insta-worthy. It is the kind of picture you will look back at months later that will make you think you want another baby.
Remember Where's Waldo? It's a classic. Why not make your own finding game out of soothers. You can hide soothers around the house and train your child to look in odd places to retrieve them in times of crisis. When your baby is screaming like it's a competition and you are frantically looking for a soother under couch cushions, your older child will magically find one in a box of Cheerios.
Teach your child to be your baby's ultimate protector. At a young age, your baby might not need all that much protecting from, say, bears or bullies. As they get older, though, they might. Teaching your older child to always have their siblings back is an important lesson that will help you for years down the road. When walking to the park, ask your older child to look both ways when crossing the street. Make sure they know that it's to keep themselves, as well as the baby safe. Get them to retrieve a blanket for your baby when it's cold out. Make sure they know that they are doing a good job keeping their baby safe and warm. Little things like this go a long way, and before you know it they might be protecting them from a wild bear or bully in the local park.
Beyond getting you a glass of water or diapers, your child is capable of so many other small tasks that will truly make your life easier, if not lazier. Your child is capable of fetching the following items; the television remote, baby washcloths, receiving blankets, clothing changes, bibs, soothers, books, snacks, magazines, lotion. They are also great at entertaining your new baby.
Perhaps your older child is much older, babysitting age maybe? Take advantage of this. Go to the grocery store without the ultimate question of if you should use your stroller, baby wear, or put the car seat in the grocery cart. It's never an easy decision and if you can bypass it go for it. You can also try and get out for some time alone, or with friends or a date night. Babysitting age is up to the parent, but we advise against 4-year-olds taking on that role, regardless of how mature you may think they are. If your child is too young to babysit, though, they might still be able to help by watching the baby while you pee (keep the door open just in case).
You'd be surprised how young kids can start cooking and/or preparing food. Easy dinners like a bag of Cheetos, Oreo cookies or Cheerios can be made by pretty much any child over one. Microwaving hotdogs should be reserved for slightly older kids, and using the stovetop older still.
Perhaps after your first baby, you didn't get out much to make new mommy friends. It's a shame, but daytime television can sometimes be enough socialization. All of this will change once you have more than one child. You will yearn for adult conversations, you will need other mommy friends. If you aren't sure how to make them just go to a local indoor playground or library, somewhere there is sure to be other kids with parental supervision. Linger around someone who you think might match your friend criteria. Let your child handle the rest. "Hi my name is Olivia, and I eat worms." Hello, conversation starter! Does she actually eat worms? The other mom will have to question you to find out. Your child might not say these exact words, but something ridiculous is bound to come out of their mouth. Children are excellent icebreakers.